I have been sitting on a lot of topics and information these past six months. A lot has changed while others stay the same. I hope to continue writing and updating on these changes.
Today I want to write about a loss we had as a family. Ten years ago, when S was a little baby, AJ, Dawn, S, and I went to a local animal rescue to look at a specific dog. She nor the following three dogs were quite the right fit for us. They then brought out a white shepherd mix and he came home with us. We kept his original name, Lincoln.
Over ten years he has been camping, hiking, welcomed two human babies, four cats and a dog. He moved with us from NJ to PA, went on hikes, let the kids snuggle and climb on him. Watched his friend Dawn move out. Protected our house from deer and bears, but mostly the stray neighborhood cat. Our lives were hectic and chaotic at times but Lincoln fit right in.
On Friday April 17th I noticed Lincoln was not eating as heartily as he normally would but he was eating and still behaving like a dog. Over the weekend I watched as his appetite all but disappeared along with his energy. Sunday we went for a walk as a family, Lincoln’s favorite thing to do. On a normal walk he would make it the full roughly 2.5 miles around our “block”. He barely made it half a mile. His face looked at me, he wanted to continue on and spend time walking with us but his body wouldn’t let him. AJ and I took turns carrying him back to the house, like our little baby.
Monday I kept a close eye on Lincoln. He was not eating at all and barely drank any water. I could feel it in my heart he was going. AJ kept trying to tell me he would be ok and a friend suggested it might even be lyme, though we had not found any ticks on him recently. Lyme is treatable and manageable but I still did not have an optimistic outlook.
After putting the kids to bed Monday night and making sure they said goodnight to Lincoln, AJ took him to the vet hospital. A short while later AJ called to let me know they were running tests and he would update me. I sat in the dark on the couch waiting for any news. Finally AJ called to tell me the results. Lincoln had severe kidney failure they could not be certain was from lyme disease. We could bring him home with the lyme treatment but it would not cure him, there was nothing they could do. If we wanted they could keep him overnight on an IV but it would not bring him back from this state he was currently in. The hope was gone. AJ told them to put him down (that’s such an ugly way to say it). We let go of hope and let Lincoln pass from this life without suffering any longer.
I bawled. All night. I have survived other pets before but for some reason this was hitting closer to the heart. Maybe because I had to be part of the decision to end his life? AJ made the decisions and did not bring anything home except Lincoln’s leash. I think it was a lot harder on AJ than he was letting show. I let it show. Monday night, April 20th, Lincoln died.
A few days later we all sat together having a family memorial for Lincoln. We looked at pictures, Dawn made a shadow box memorial and we all sat together on the couch sharing memories of Lincoln.
Dawn had a picture of Lincoln put into a suit for me for Mother’s Day. S still had a hard time focusing on school work for a week (that’s ok she was home and we took it easy, thanks to COViD shutting down school). She will still occasionally ask why we didn’t have a funeral for him. Maybe one day she will understand. K will sometimes spontaneously say “Lincoln is in heaven” or “Is Lincoln ok now?” J doesn’t remember him that I can tell. For the first month I could hear his paws walking across our kitchen floors and some nights his bark telling me something was outside. Now my nights are filled with quiet and the floors a little less covered with hair (still have two cats). One day I won’t cry at his loss but be happy with the memories I have of him protecting and loving our family. One day we will consider adopting a dog again. One day. Today is not that day.